British violinist Madeleine Mitchell has performed in more than 40 countries and is especially noted for her advocacy of new music; several of Britain's top composers have composed new music for her. She is also an important educator and music administrator.
Mitchell was born in London and grew up with music in the home: her parents were avid classical music listeners. Mitchell showed musical talent early; her Sunday school teacher told her parents that she was already leading other children in singing at the age of three. She studied in youth classes at the Royal College of Music as a teen, went on to enroll at the school for university studies, won its Tagore Gold Medal in 1978, and traveled to New York under a Fulbright scholarship for studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and the Juilliard School in New York. Among her teachers was the legendary Dorothy DeLay. Several prizes Mitchell won came with recital opportunities at London's Southbank Centre, beginning in 1984.
Unusually, Mitchell began to commission new music quite early in her career, beginning with Fantasia, by Brian Elias, in 1986. Among the many other composers who have written music for her are Michael Nyman (in whose Michael Nyman Band she performed for a time), James MacMillan, and Tarik O'Regan. An entire album, In Sunlight: Pieces for Madeleine Mitchell, is devoted to compositions she originated in performance. Mitchell has performed with major European orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. A professor at the Royal College of Music since 1994, Mitchell has served on the school's RCM Council administrative body. She was artistic director of the Red Violin festival in Cardiff, Wales, which was organized under the patronage of Lord Yehudi Menuhin and took place in 1997 and again in 2007.
Mitchell has recorded for Somm, Signum Classics, Divine Art, and Naxos; for the latter label, she released an album in 2019 of music by Grace Williams with the Chamber Ensemble of London, of which she has served as director.